Now this is what I call a head start!
The best time to work on your marriage is before it even begins. (Yes, really!) If you are single, here are 10 things you can do in the present to prepare for a strong future.
1. STOP FALLING IN LOVE WITH POTENTIAL
Having a healthy relationship with your partner means loving them for who stands before you today, not the hope of who they will become tomorrow. Falling in love with potential is a mistake.
I’m not talking about looking in the mirror and saying, "I look good." Loving yourself is about respecting what you put in your mind, your body and your spirit. The more you love yourself, the more emotionally healthy people you will attract.
2. GET SOME IDENTITY CAPITAL
I learned this from an amazing TED Talk by clinical psychologist Meg Jay. She articulates "identity capital" as something that adds value to who you are. It could be an internship, getting your start-up launched, going for that trek around the world—any initiative that builds character will later be desired.
3. WORK ON YOUR VULNERABILITY
The bottom line is, you can't love without first being vulnerable. Putting yourself in positions of vulnerability in other areas of your life will help exercise this "muscle."
4. BE INTENTIONAL
Approach your love life as intentionally as you do your work. Choose who and what you want in a relationship rather than just making it work with whoever chooses you.
5. UNDERSTAND YOUR PERSONALITY
The top reason blamed for divorce is money, but that’s incorrect, it's actually the inability to problem-solve. Working through issues is solely based on communication skills. Effective communication stems from our personality. In my book, I explain in detail how to determine personality compatibility.
6. KNOW YOUR VALUES
Creating your "values list" is the most important exercise you can do when thinking about compatibility in a partner. Your values are your guiding principles, akin to your personal rulebook. If you try to live with someone who has a different set of rules, it's not going to work. Spend time fully understanding what you value most (and why.)
7. EXPAND YOUR SOCIAL CIRCLE
Adding what is called "weak ties" (friends of friends of friends) to your social circle is documented as the most effective way to realize new life opportunities, including jobs and a significant other. Focus on expanding your circle now. Here are proven ways to meet someone new.
8. STRENGTHEN YOUR BELIEF SYSTEM
I preach to my clients constantly that our belief is our reality. If you know your belief system (about marriage) needs support, I suggest beginning with monitoring what content you intake (via TV, blogs, etc.) and whom you surround yourself with.
9. GET A MENTOR
I can't say enough about the growth that comes from mentorship, whether it’s for romance, business or just life in general. If you've looked for a mentor with no success, you're more than welcome to join my mentoring group, please join me.
10. TALK TO PAUL
Comments, concerns or questions about my advice? Tell me about it.
This article was originally published at Essence. Reprinted with permission from the author.